Greetings to you Electric Bike Enthusiasts and the E-Bike Curious!
We recently received some very good questions about electric bikes and their "social identity." Our reply seems well-suited to a blog post. In addition, if you peruse this blog, you'll find mention of "social" rides the Electric Bike Guy has joined and enjoyed. The very first was the New Year's Day ride with the Mt Baker Bicycle Club in 2010. And remember if you want make friends on those social rides, always bring the candy!*
This is such an interesting question, we think it will inspire a blog post!
As you may have read in our blog, Electric Bike Guy (that’s me, Stefan) has ridden the Chilly Hilly two years in a row and the STP in 2010 on the OHM electric bicycle powered by BionX. I highly recommend these rides. The rides are tremendous fun and the Cascade Bicycle Club does a fantastic job with all aspects of these events. Of course, you’re right, it’s these fun “social” rides, not races, where the electric bike makes sense. I am personally delighted that electric bikes, and “pedelecs” in particular, will make these rides more accessible to more people.
I do not know of any restrictions around the use of electric bikes for these events by the Cascade Bicycle Club.
I say “pedelecs” in particular--and I am of course partial to the OHM--because a pedal-assist system is pedal-centric and bicycle-centric. The system boosts your own pedaling power as you are riding. You do not simply sit and ride it like a scooter. The level of assistance has been pre-set (by you) so the system kicks in when you need it. The level can be adjusted if needed, while you ride, with a simple toggle requiring about the same kind of attention you would pay to shifting gears. The OHM and BionX do have a throttle built in—I rarely if ever use it, but some people find it helpful as a boost on a hill. (Please note: the BionX was not designed to be used primarily as a throttle-driven bike, and over-use would reduce the longevity of the system as well as battery range.)
The OHM in particular is the electric bike we sell because it is very bicycle-centric. The standard bicycle components are very high quality. The level of the componentry and the bicycle-centric excellent design inspire a lot of respect from conventional riders—even those who may initially feel the impulse to view the power system as “cheating.”
And the “cheater” accusations are few and far between. I know it is not “cheating” because, as you reference, this bike expands accessibility to those who simply would not ride at all, or would not use a conventional bike for certain rides such as long “fun” rides, or a long and hilly commute. In my heart I eschew competition anyway, despite the thrill I get when I pass a top-of-the-line carbon-fiber bike and its rider going up a hill (I cannot usually pass them on the flats.)
For my part, I am pleased to be “cheating” the gas companies and auto industry. And delighted with the improvements in my health and level of fitness. Because the OHM is a pedal-assist, I can choose the level of work-out while riding, depending on the level of assistance I use. In fact, the electric bike is a safe and healthful way to improve general fitness because the system provides a steady aerobic “burn” that allows you to keep riding without the strain or exertion that exhausts or stresses some people and thus deters many from riding.
Out on the street, or showing the bikes at an event, I get an occasional derisive remark. There is still a lot of education needed about electric bikes--what they can do, how they work, and the distinctions between the different manufacturers. Other riders are shocked at times that I am able to maintain the pace I can on the OHM, but their curiosity is satisfied when they realize I am riding an electric bike. They do not shun me as a “cheater.” They are amused and, as I said, impressed by the bike itself.
I said we carry the OHM because of its high-level quality and performance. We are concerned about the (low) level of quality that characterizes much of the product on the market today. We do not like the idea that electric bikes may gain a negative image from the inexpensive, lower-quality technology and componentry that may send these bikes in droves to the landfill.
We would like to see electric bikes that both increase accessibility and offer an alternative vehicle that satisfies as much as possible our world’s current need for sustainable technology and lifestyle. To us, this means quality and longevity. Since OHM and BionX are the best we have found for doing that in the electric bike industry, we sell them (and use them ourselves) exclusively.
Back to your question about the rides. On a very long ride such as the STP, every rider has to think about a strategy--one of the aspects of our strategy as electric bike riders is recharge. With an average range of about 40 mph, but a possibility of 60 mph or more, I need to plan my power usage as efficiently as possible, taking the terrain into consideration, and strategize about recharging my battery.
The battery charges more efficiently and more quickly at the top of its use. So it makes more sense to recharge the battery before it is 50% drained, when a recharge is less than an hour, rather than waiting for it to drain completely—except at the end of the day when there’s time to allow for a 3-hour charge.
It’s easy to recharge for 15 to 30 minutes, or longer, at the numerous rest stops along the way of the STP. Or stop somewhere you know you can find an outlet.
We, at Seattle Electric Bike/OHM Factory Store, this year are inviting and encouraging our customers to participate in “Bike to Work Day” in Seattle, and also the “Get to Know Your Port” Ride sponsored by the Port of Seattle in June. As our time allows we want to participate in other “social” rides and encourage other electric bike enthusiasts to join us. We know our customers have been thrilled with their bikes and their increased access to riding--whatever need initially inspired their electric bike purchase.
As far as specific invitations, we have been invited to be part of presentations by the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association and other educational sustainability events. The only specific invitation to a ride has been the one organized by the Northwest Electric Bike Network: last summer a small group of electric-bike riders gathered for an inaugural group ride from Golden Gardens to Gasworks Park and back. I am not sure what they are planning for this year. There was a very wide range of electric bikes, from systems built by the riders themselves to my OHM powered by BionX.
I love the exhilaration that comes with the large group rides. Crossing the bridge from Washington to Oregon on the STP—probably the most challenging portion of the ride—I was just as challenged as any other rider by the conditions and the daunting incline. I was able to maintain my pace going up and over, and I was cheered on and supported by my fellow riders just as we all were. It was a special moment I will never forget. And I crossed the finish line a couple of hours later.
I look forward to seeing you in the store so you can experience for yourself the quality and performance of the OHM electric bicycle powered by BionX. And I can share with you more of my perspective from these past couple of years riding my OHM.
Best Regards and Happy Riding!
Stefan, The Electric Bike Guy
*artwork from the Kelly Lyles installation "Candy Land," November 2010, Seattle, WA.
Cascade Bicycle Club has just put out a vision for 2011 called "Ride with Sophie." It's all about us supporting each other to ride our bikes more--as an alternative to cars--especially for those short trips. We know first-hand from our customers that electric bikes have made it possible for some people to reclaim their love for bicycle riding and to experience again the familiar sense of joy and adventure and health and community. Our customers love their electric bikes!
And with an electric bike, you don't have to limit yourself to the short trips. A large number of our customers are dedicated bike-commuters. Some have reclaimed their youthful love of riding; others simply needed some assistance to bike-commute every day and still be able to work all day.
Stay-tuned for more about Cascade Bicycle Club during this National Bike Month of May and mark your calendars for Bike to Work Day in Seattle on May 20th. It's not too late to sign up for the 2011 Group Health Commute Challenge--join a team or go solo!
Check out this article from the Seattle Times discussing the miserable weather riders encountered while riding the Chilly Hilly this year! We're happy to report that the OHM performed fantastically (for the second year in a row) despite all the rain, sleet, and wind. And we loved it!
'Chilly Hilly' bicyclists brave unusually cold weather on Bainbridge Island this year The annual "Chilly Hilly" bicycle ride around Bainbridge Island was no hillier than usual.
But the rally that traditionally opens the biking season was "the chilliest in recent memory," a Cascade Bicycle Club organizer announced to cyclists milling about under the Alaskan Way Viaduct before boarding the ferry to Bainbridge.
They rolled, by the thousands, on rugged mountain bikes with knobby tires, lightweight carbon-fiber racing rigs, clunky commuter bikes with rattling wire baskets, low-slung recumbent bikes and at least one unicycle. One two-wheeler had a child seat occupied by a bright-green frog the size of a 4-year-old.
They rolled in hoodies and bicycle shorts, rain pants and waterproof shoe covers, wool socks or bare ankles. A few carried red pirate flags, though all around was evidence that in these parts a late February bike ride doesn't make you a renegade.
But they all rolled cold. National Weather Service data show temperatures on the island did not top 40 degrees before 4 p.m.
"I've done it probably 10 times, and this was the worst weather," said Mike Scanlon, 63, of Seattle, as he warmed up on the return ferry ride. But he had no regrets: "It's an institution."
Despite a glimmer of sun around 10 a.m., the skies soon delivered a rotating assortment of light rain, sleet and snow to spur the cyclists along on their 33-mile circuit of the island.
The Chilly Hilly, though relatively short, involves a total elevation gain of 2,675 feet. That's only 335 feet less than the Cascade Bicycle Club's signature ride this summer, the two-day, 204-mile Seattle-to-Portland (STP) ride.
At least the hills kept riders warm, working up a sweat. For the dozens of volunteers who lined the route to warn of sharp turns and busy intersections, it was all precipitation and no perspiration.
Cascade spokeswoman M.J. Kelly said about 3,700 riders registered for the event, which raises money for the club as well as several Bainbridge nonprofit groups. That compares with a record 6,029 last year, when the weather was downright balmy.
The cold didn't sap the energy from Kaiden Matson, who was clambering up and down stairs on the ferry during the return trip. Of course, he's 2 years old and completed the Chilly Hilly in a cozy red bike trailer towed by his father, Aaron.
"He'll probably do the STP with me this year," the father said.
Come on down! We'll be at Booth #411 same as last year. New this year, we'll be taking you out for rides on the new 2011 OHM Urban and Sport bikes! Cascade Bicycle Club does a great job of creating this event with lots of entertaining and instructive events as well as a diversity of exhibitors. Come check out our 2011 models and new lower prices as we prepare to open the OHM Factory Store showroom at the same Greenwood location: 8310 8th Ave NW, Seattle 98117. And we've got a great deal on some 2010 Urban models. See you there!
Seattle Electric Bike - Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Arriving at the STP Finish Line in Portland!
Commuting home tonight on my Ohm electric bike I felt the season change from a bright late summer day to a cool fall evening. I ride my Ohm daily in all kinds of conditions and environments. My favorite part of riding this bike is the Zen meditative experience it allows. This electric bike enhances the ride, creating that in-the-present, bike-centric, one-with-the-road feeling I had riding bikes as a young person; a feeling that stays with me to this day; the reason we ride. Tonight as I hit a particular steep hill on my Ohm bike that now has thousands of miles on it--that bike behaved like a bird on an updraft, rising fast and light.
Electric bike guy in Seattle
As a dealer for Ohm and BionX, Electric Bike Guy had a very successful first season, and lost track of the bike events, green festivals, electric vehicle shows, farmers markets and organized rides we participated in this summer.
Seattle Electric Bike test rides at Sustainable NE Seattle
Thousands of people have seen the Ohm and BionX at events and on the streets as new Ohm riders and I played and commuted on our e-bikes. Hundreds of people have been on test rides, including a congressman (still!) who loved it.
We shipped bikes as far north as Alaska and as far south as Miami. We spent countless hours answering your questions by phone and email, taking pride in returning calls and emails promptly. And then delivering to you the best electric bikes in the industry. Personalized test rides brought the bikes to your neighborhoods, homes and offices, and to “your” hills--in particular, those Northwest hills that have at times deterred you from experiencing the joy of riding. We demonstrated that you could fly over them.
With the NW Electric Bike Network first group ride to Gasworks Park in Seattle
One extraordinary event stood out: the STP!!! Yes, electric bike guy rode an Ohm electric bike from Seattle to Portland with 9,999 other riders. Two hundred miles: one hundred miles a day. The Ohm and its rider made it without physical or mechanical failure.
The STP Start Line at the UW in Seattle
About the rider: Electric Bike Guy is 54 years young and this was his first STP—I was terrified! I had to work and pedal hard. The advantage of the BionX system on my Ohm bike is akin to having a virtual sprocket: the electric power system increases my pedaling output exponentially. I was tired, and experienced the joy of accomplishment that comes from extreme exercise.
The Bike: Wow! No mechanical failure--not even a flat--possibly a result of the Kevlar tires. The Ohm’s unique cantilevered seat post kept my butt from hurting--something so many people complained about. And the hydraulic disc brakes kept me stable and secure when avoiding hazards on the road—the additional weight entirely compensated for by the bike’s power.
A highlight was the camaraderie and challenge of crossing the Lewis and Clark Bridge from Washington into Oregon. I began the crossing towards the rear of my group, hundreds of us escorted by the local motorcycle club (and the state patrol). The grade is steep and the view incredible. Many people had to walk their bikes. The Ohm powered right up and over the bridge as I flew to the front of our escort group, my fellowSTPers cheering me on!
An interesting question regarding the Ohm’s performance: I did not see or hear about any other electric bikes on the STP, while I have come across other e-bike riders on other, shorter organized group rides--Why?
I think it must be the efficiency, torque, weight and regeneration--all contributing to this bike’s superior range. The Ohm can average a forty to sixty mile range, and has a recharge fast enough to allow completing the ride in time. I carried an extra battery, and at each twenty to thirty mile stop while I indulged in the free power bars and energy drinks, I charged the batteries fifteen to thirty minutes using the standard plugs found at parks, high schools and at the REI headquarters. So if this un-modified Ohm electric bike can go two hundred miles on the STP, just think what it could do for your commute. Maybe it’s time for a car replacement?
An essential rest stop on the STP
More pictures from my summer vacation--and a video!
A favorite BionX conversion on the spectacular SwissbikeXO Mountain Bike
Our nephew John rode the Flying Wheels in Redmond WA
Ready for the 4th of July Parade, Maxwelton Beach 2010
Heading home on a Washington State ferry the day after theSTP
Thanks for a great Bike Expo 2010, the first-ever for Seattle Electric Bike! Thanks to the Cascade Bicycle Club for creating a fun, informative and diverse event. Thanks to all of you who visited our booth and talked with us about our electric bikes. We had fun!
As a reminder if you were at the expo, we are the dealer for OHM electric bikes and the BionX power system, both Canadian companies that are setting the standard in the electric bike industry. The OHM bike integrates the BionX motor and intelligent pedal-activated system into its impeccable design.
Speaking of BionX, thanks to our friends Liliana and Alexandre from Quebec at the BionX booth. Merci! They offered the critical test ride on a bike outfitted with the BionX system: the ride that really gave people the chance to experience the enjoyment and efficiency of riding a BionX. After recommending the test ride, we got to hear the e-bike curious became the e-bike believer, even those who accuse us of cheating or getting assistance before we need it!
We had some frequently asked questions at the Seattle Electric Bike booth.
Location: 1. See and purchase our bikes in Greenwood at JRA Bike Shop, the friendliest bike shop in town, and mechanics of the highest caliber who bring enormous creative expertise to the maintenance and safe and effective installation of your BionX system.www.jrabikeshop.com
2. However, Greenwood is an urban neighborhood, so another location may be best for your electric-bike test ride: call to schedule a personalized test ride in your own neighborhood, a park, a quiet setting like the Arboretum, or following your own commuter route.
3. Come to Clinton on Whidbey Island (our home office) where you can see and purchase a bike. Leave your car in Mukilteo for a mini-vacation on the Island, test-riding an OHM bike or one of our custom BionX conversions. By appointment.
Range: Because range can vary so much, our best answer to this question was “Chilly-Hilly.” Stefan rode the Chilly Hilly at a brisk pace, caught up in the incredible synergy of the group ride. He set his assistance level at 3 and 4, pedaled his little buns off up every hill, used no throttle assist, and carried two full panniers (10# +). About mid-way through the 33-mile, 2,675 feet elevation ride, he had used only about 40% of his battery. At the snack stop, not knowing what was to come, he topped of his battery for 15 minutes while he powered himself with free energy bars, and rode off with 75% capacity. At the end of the ride, he was down to 25%.
Chilly Hilly Elevation Profile
Throttle: If you ride the bike with only the throttle engaged as if it were a scooter, you would be able to ride maybe 20 miles on a flat surface. This is would not be good for you or your battery. Electric pedal-assist bikes are designed to be pedaled; the throttle is great as a boost when you need it.
Pricing: The 2010 OHM bikes are $3,299 and $3,799. Our retro-fitted bikes run from the Marin EZ Step-Through at $2,830 to the SwissBike folding XO at $4,189. Our BionX systems run from $1,490 to $1,990. Installation and shipping are always free.
Commuting: Yes, these bikes are the ideal commuter-bike. Stefan commutes to Seattle from Whidbey Island twice a week on his OHM Sport. He can get around town for food, shopping, and visits with friends, and use the express busses and the Sounder for getting in and out of town. He keeps his battery topped off with a plug-in on the train and the ferry.
Can this system go on a ______________ (fill in the blank with your desired bike)? We can consult with you about a BionX installation on any bike, trike, tandem, cargo, or any other pedal-powered vehicle. We specialize in finding bikes with the size, features and design you need.
Seattle Electric Bike has always been “Powered by BionX.” We pride ourselves on high quality bikes and our BionX installation expertise. We respect the investment a quality electric-bike requires, so we want to provide the best—we have found the best in OHM and BionX. And we convert bikes like the Fuji Police Special and the Marin EZ Step-Through, both featured at the Expo, for their quality components, longevity, safety, comfort, and value. We know that an excellent quality electric-bike is one you’ll use, even to replace your car. This standard of quality, a battery life of 8-10 years with regular use, the fitness aspect, and the fun, all make for a sound investment.
There’s a lot more information on our website www.seattleelectricbike.NETor you can call us anytime if you have questions at 206-510-0830. We like talking with you about electric bikes!
Finally, by far the most ubiquitous item and popular give-away at the Expo was the snack bar. Here's a recipe for ours:
Seattle Electric Bike Energy Bars
1 cup pitted dates
1 tblsp coconut oil
1/2 cup raw carob powder
¼ cup raw cocoa powder
2 ½ cups pecans, almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts, or a combo
pinch sea salt
optional: cinnamon, ginger, or other spice not to exceed ½ tsp!
The most healthful way to use nuts is to soak the nuts overnight, then set out to dry (a dehydrator or the top of your refrigerator or the pre-heated oven turned off are the best places). Almonds can be blanched.
Place all ingredients except nuts in a food processor. Pulse until processed to a paste. Transfer paste to a medium bowl (don’t clean processor).
Add the nuts to the processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the nuts, along with the optional spices, to the bowl with the date paste. Knead the nuts into the paste with your hands, or stir and press nuts into paste with a sturdy mixing spoon.
Form into bars using 3 tablespoons per bar. Of course you can make small balls or any shape you like. Or divide the mixture in half and roll out between pieces of parchment and slice into bars.
Store in a covered container or wrap parchment around each bar and refrigerate. Okay to freeze. Makes 24 bars.